Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vegas Bob's Elfin Forest Report

Since nobody reads my blog I figured I'd just send this to you for the team one!

Yo Cap’n!

I figured I’d follow Randy’s race report with one of my own. I decided to blow off my scheduled cyclocross race when I found out it was in San Fernando , 2hrs away. I elected instead to head 1hr south to the Elfin Forest race after hearing about it from fellow racer and Cal State Series Pro champ John Nobil and from Randy’s always positive remarks about the Racers and Chasers events.

On Sunday morning I got up, rode a little warm-up, ate breakfast, threw the Tomac in the truck and hit the afterburners. A few blurry minutes later I was in Escondido , winding down the twisty 2 lane road past chicken farms and horse stables minutes from the venue. My directions said to go 1 mile past the first Elfin Forest parking lot for the race. After going 2 miles and not seeing either a sign or a crowd of Subarus with roof racks I got worried. I was already late and wrong directions would only compound the problem. After finding that the only dirt road that looked beefy enough to handle a horde of racers had a gate and a large sign that said “ Private Road - Video Surveillance In Use”, I promptly found myself back at the first parking lot.

Though extremely tiny, the parking lot had one feature that immediately interested me, an open for business nature ‘Interpretive Center’, with maps and exhibits and more importantly, docents. I double-parked and quickly went inside. After perusing a map and not getting any more informed I approached the 70-something guys working and asked if they knew where the mountain bike race is.

“Well, it’s up at the top...” one replied, pointing up the hills toward the ridge,

“…but I don’t know how they got up there because they didn’t use the ‘Way Up’ trail.”

That didn’t tell me how to get there, but at least I knew I was close. I told him what my directions said about passing the first parking lot, but that I didn’t see anything a mile down the road. “Oh,” he said “they probably took the signs down after it was over yesterday.”

It was then that I realized that in my enthusiasm to race I neglected to figure out that unlike the cyclocross race on Sunday, the mtb one was on SATURDAY. Yes, I was 24 hrs late for the race.

Oh, well. It was a beautiful say in San Diego so I decided to take advantage of a new place to ride. The Elfin Forest Reserve isn’t overly huge, there’s only 12mi of trials, but it’s definitely a fun time. Starting from the valley floor where beautiful Escondido Creek runs past the parking lot, the Way Up trail ascends about 650ft in 1.5 miles, with lots of switchbacks and technical rocky sections to keep it interesting and your heart rate high. From there the Equine trail is a 2.6 mile superfun loop. It snakes up and down, winds back and forth and has plenty of embedded and loose rocks to keep your mind on overdrive the entire time. 3/4 through the loop you can hook up to the Manzanita trail that takes you over the ridge beautiful views of the Olivenhain Reservoir and Dam.. The Cielo trail is an out-and-back that drops down to the bottom of the dam in less than a mile that is all switchbacks, rock bars, and gravel that keep you on your toes going down as well as back up, especially when racing a group of 40 equestrians that gave me a modest head start before chasing me up. I took Manzanita back to Equine and both were just as fun clockwise as they were counter. Back on the ridge fireroad I followed that past Way Up in the other direction to Lake Hodges Overlook Trail. It oddly enough takes you to over a few small peaks to the view at the Lake Hodges Overlook and to the short but rollie and fun Lake Hodges Overlook Loop trail on which you can hear waves lapping the shore as it skirts the reservoir. I encountered the horse group once again as I made my way back as they charged out to Lake Hodges . A quick but careful descent down Way Up and I was back at my truck.

There are a lot of hikers on the Way Up trail and a few venture out to Lake Hodges Overlook, and of course the horses, so you definitely have to pay attention, but for a quick and challenging ride it’s a great place to go. I will definitely make the drive again. Maybe on the actual day of the race, too!



At 1:51 PM, Blogger rushman said...

Sorry I didn't get my phone VB it's broke so call on my other phone 760-594-0517. It's a great place to ride and some of it is pretty narley but all fun next time you want to come down give me a call on this number and I will meet ya. very nice report to good job dude.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Sharpie said...

I used to ride that trail with Vet pro Dh racer Theresa Hill waaaaaaay back in the day, and always loved the climb up, and the techy rock sections on the hardtail. Love that place!

At 4:08 PM, Blogger taylor said...

Wow, hahaha... That's an awesome story!


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